It was just a fun Christmas party. Two Thursdays before Christmas Eve and our staff had gathered at one of our campuses for a Christmas party like we did every year. There was incredible food and a gift exchange and different members of leadership gave Christmas tidings. And then our lead pastor got up and did what lead pastors often do: challenged us.
He got up and talked about how thankful he was for the team and for what God has been doing at Cross Point this year. And then he shared how every year he and his family have a word that they want their year to center around. So as we were getting ready to head into 2018, he challenged us to come up with a word for ourselves and our families. I’d heard that idea but had never been directly challenged to do it. But without thinking, the word came to my mind, and it had been festering for weeks.
What I really wanted God to do in 2018 for my wife, Heather, and I was to give us vision and direction for what our lives were to look like. I asked Heather what she thought, and she was in. So we were off with a desire for vision in 2018.
We were off with intentions of seeking God’s will for our lives, not out of a selfish ambition or desire for something different, but from a place of truly wanting to make the most out of our lives for God’s plan.
Well, we’re about three months into 2018, and what I thought God would start to reveal isn’t exactly coming through. I was hoping for affirmations of staying in our jobs forever or calls to other parts of the world or new passions to be revealed or current passions to be affirmed. And to be fair, Heather has found some passions that she has to work with people with special needs and pursue education in that world to make that what she does with her life. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous that she’s found that vision into 2018. It’s a heck of a lot easier to go through your day to day knowing the overall realm you’re working in.
And while I wish that I was in that same boat, I think God had to teach me something first. God didn’t want me to learn the plans for my life. God wanted me to learn to trust Him with the plans for my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you…”
Lately, this verse has taken on new meaning. I used to always read it as an encouragement that God has plans for me. Yay for that! But now I read it with an emphasis on that “I”. God knows the plans that He has for me, and I don’t necessarily get to know those plans. I just have to trust the truth in that verse that those plans are good.
You see, oftentimes we want the whole map.
We want to almost step outside of our lives and look at the whole spectrum of our lives and know exactly when to turn left, when to start a family, where to live for how long, you name it.
We want to be Joey in the episode of “Friends” when he sets the map of London and stands on it to know where to go. We want to be “in the map” so we can see where everything is.
But what I’m realizing is that if I know it all, my dependence on God goes down drastically. I’m not proud of that, but it’s a reality. Because in this season of asking God for vision, I’ve been in prayer and my Bible more than ever. Because of the unknown, I’m being forced to turn to what I know will always be constant and that’s a trust in God.
“You are a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
A friend of mine pointed out a while ago what that verse doesn’t say, and it stuck with me. That verse doesn’t say, “You are a flashlight showing my next turn and stadium lighting at the finish.” Nope. “You are a lamp unto my feet.” And this point was really driven home when I saw someone illustrate that. When all’s dark around and you have a lamp, all that you can see is what’s at your feet and your next step, maybe two. You can see the next thing. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other.
So as almost 25% of 2018 is over (Crazy, right?!), I’m still boldly praying for vision. I’m still asking for God to reveal new things and affirm current things. But it’s all coming through a different lens. It’s coming through a lens or calm and comfort because I ultimately know that whether God reveals some master plan or not, I can count on the fact that the Light at my feet won’t go out and will provide vision enough for the next step.